Making the switch, what to buy? Which upgrades?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by arbloch, May 29, 2014.

  1. arbloch macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2014
    #1
    Hey all, new to the forums, I did a search and didn't find anything that quite answered my questions so I hope this isn't a repeat! After years of staunch Windows support I'm finally making the switch. I'm sick of sub-par 3rd party hardware failing after two years.

    The MBA seems pretty perfect for me, but I recognize that I'm basically buying a four year old machine and I'm wondering where people would recommend I upgrade (if at all). I will be using this for light work stuff, music, video, web browsing -- very basic.

    Is it worth upgrading the RAM to 8GB or the processor to an Intel i7? Anyone know if either of these is a significant performance chokepoint for home computing? I'm looking to spend less than $1500.

    I would also consider the MBP if there's a compelling case, but because of consistent durability problems I'm leaning towards Solid State. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. sonicrobby macrumors 68020

    sonicrobby

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2013
    Location:
    New Orleans
    #2
    With the MBA's and retina macbook pros, the RAM cannot be changed aftermarket. For that, I would recommend the 8GB upgrade to future proof. I would not recommend the i7 upgrade as there wouldnt be a noticeable difference in speed.

    The MBP would only be a good option if you like changing/upgrading the HDD and RAM yourself (and if you still use an optical drive). But checking out the Apple Refurb store, it seems like you can get the MBP for $1000, giving you $500 to get an SSD and RAM to add and stay within your budget
     
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #3
    Not sure what you mean here, the 2014 Haswell MBA is in a whole different league from the 2010 Core2 Duo model in terms of processor and graphics. Also much faster SSD, USB 3.0 and much longer battery life.

    I went from a 2008 15" MBP Core2 Duo 2.4ghz to a 2011 13" MBA i5 and the CPU was almost twice as fast. Today I have a 2013 11" i7/8gb/512gb MBA that is probably 30% faster.

    I think the advice about getting 8gb is sound, if you can afford it. OTOH, the term "future proof" is used way too much around here IMO. Who knows what lies in the future? In my own situation, 4 or 5 years down the road I will probably think my MBA is an old worn-out computer no matter how much RAM it has. :)

    I run powerful software like Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro, so I got the top spec machine. But it doesn't sound like you need that kind of power. I agree the i5 will be fine. I think you would even be fine with 4gb if you need to keep the cost down. Even if the MBA swaps, the SSD is so fast that you probably won't notice.

    I see less latency in logic pro and faster rendering in Final Cut Pro on my i7/8gb MBA compared to my old i5/4gb. But for "everyday" stuff like web browsing, e-mail, iTunes, MS Office, the user experience is really very similar. The new machine is just a bit more responsive, but the old one certainly doesn't feel slow.

    FWIW, nobody makes a SSD upgrade yet for the 2013 or 2014 models, so be sure to choose one with enough space for your needs.
     
  4. arbloch thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2014
    #4
    Eh, getting 8GB RAM and the 512GB storage is a little over my budget, but you're right that it's probably worth it. Right now I feel like 256GB is fine but storage isn't something to compromise on. I'll leave the processor alone. Thanks for your help!

    Also... I'm really excited for this thing haha.
     
  5. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #5
    Certainly wasn't saying that you should get 512gb, just that you should be sure to buy enough because upgrades aren't currently available and would probably be very expensive even if they were.

    You might even be fine with 128gb. I work with professional HD video sometimes so I wanted all the disk space I could get. Recently, I got a Time Capsule and am using that as a network drive for my iTunes library (500gb and growing). This works really well around the house using the fast 802.11ac wifi, throughput is about the same as a directly connected USB 2.0 hard drive.
     
  6. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #6
    Hi arbloch,

    The MBA has physically not changed in the last 4 years, but its internals make it one of the most useful consumer laptops today. It has the longest battery life, fastest SSD, and the best trackpad of any notebook. I definitely agree that the outside of the notebook hasn't changed much, and it is one of the things stopping me from upgrading my 2011 MBA, just because it looks exactly like the new models. They should be releasing a major redesign this year, so if it bothers you that much, it can't hurt to wait.

    In terms of upgrades, many people will recommend getting as much RAM as possible, but consumer tasks will realistically not use more than 4GB of RAM for the next 4-5 years. My 2011 MBA has 2GB of RAM, and between writing, web browsing, watching movies, and light gaming, I never max out my RAM. Next year I will probably start lagging out some, but for now it is great. If you are using VMs, Photoshop, or data processing programs, go for as much RAM as you want, but otherwise the RAM will be a waste of money.

    Upgrading the SSD is one of the best upgrades you can get for consumer tasks. The speed of the drive is proportional to the storage space, and a 256GB drive can be up to 40% faster than a 128GB drive. Later on in the computer's life, when tasks begin paging from the RAM onto the SSD, your computer will not slow down as much.

    You can pick up a 256GB/4GB MBA at bestbuy for 950$ with student discount. It is the best deal currently, and I would highly recommend it.

    Best,
    Matt
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7

    Video is NOT "basic" Editing video is very taxing of any computer the files are huge and rendering and transcoding takes a long time. But FCP X runs well on any current Mac.

    If yo get 8GB RQM and an SSD the computer will be very fast, over kill really for most consumer uses, except video, it will work OK for making short films for Youtube but for serious video work you can NEVER have a big enough computer or a big enough screen.

    ----------

    You can always add external storage for your video files. Even 1TB would fill up fast if you shoot much video. Likely you only need a few files when away but when you get home you plug in the dig disk drives.
     
  8. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #8
    I think by "video" he just meant watching movies.
     
  9. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #9
    That was the way I read it also.

    However, I used Final Cut Pro 6 on my 2011 i5/4gb/256gb MBA and it ran just fine. It was actually a big upgrade for me, coming from a 2008 15" core2 Duo MBP. It runs even better on my 2013 MBA. :)
     

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